Brahminy Kite by Nisha Purushothaman
The Brahminy Kite (Haliastur indus) is a medium-sized bird of prey, found on the coast and in inland wetlands in the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, and Australia.
A scavenger feeding mainly on dead fish and crabs, it occasionally hunts live prey including small mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and aquatic animals, taking them with formidable talons.
When fishing on aquatic animals, Brahminy Kites sometimes land in the water but manage to swim and take off without much trouble.
They are kleptoparasitic, often attempting to steal other birds’ catches.
The image was taken at Ploachira, a 600-hectare wetland in Kerala that was once a paradise for thousands of migratory birds. This year, however, only some egrets and kites could be found in one small area of the wetland with a trace of water. Because the site may be converted to tourism, the government attempted to drain the wetlands, and then conducted daily burns, adversely affecting wildlife, as well as children at a nearby school.
The photographer observed Brahminy Kites trying to grab fish from egrets, and even attacking juvenile egrets. This particular kite seized the photographer’s attention as it entered the water at a sharp angle, then rose into the sky with a snake in its talons. The snake shook vigorously, and managed to slip from the claws of the kite.